I want to do the responsible thing when I buy my food, I really do. Even though I know it'll cost me a few more bucks I always try to buy the organic choice of produce, meat, etc. I've given up buying steaks at Costco even though they are pretty freaking good and about a third less than my organo-market beef. Wild salmon, not farmed, free range organic chicken, not caged. Farm fresh eggs, blah, blah, blah. But sometimes I've gotta admit it gets kind of painful, even when that pain is unintentionally inflicted.
Here's the deal.... I went to the Thursday farmer's market here in PDX looking for some spring asparagus for some risotto (I'll be doing it next week...I think you'll like it!). Remarkably no one had any, or I got there too late. So a quick regroup was in order. I noticed this nice couple selling their pasture raised chickens at one of the booths. Since my roast chicken is, and I say this only because it's true, the best fucking bird you'd ever hope to eat, I made what I thought was the smart decision that this was dinner. Here's how my conversation wet when I ordered it:
Me: "Hi! Do you have any whole chickens left?"
Farmer Dude: "We sure do."
Me: "What weight are the running?"
Farmer Dude: "I only have five pounders today."
Me: "Perfect. I'll take one!" (then I pull out a twenty to pay for it, knowing I need change to grab some other produce)
Farmer Dude's wife (to Farmer Dude): "Um, honey, did you give him the price?"
Farmer Dude (to me while handing the chicken over): "That'll be $22, please."
Me (while my brain is going "Twenty-two effing dollars for a chicken??? Are you effing kidding me?!): "............um, okay..........."
So I walk away thinking this had better be the best damn chicken I've ever eaten. I mean I buy some awesome cage-free product at my local New Season's for about $2.79 a pound and they rock. Again, all you read about is how we've got to eat more responsibly and quit buying large farm meat and produce. But at $4.40 a pound, I'm sorry, this was a one shot deal. And if I'm saying that, and I don't make boatloads of cash, this is something that is out of reach for 80% of every day consumers. That is the dilemma of this whole eating responsibly movement. And until this little economic equation changes, it's going to continue to be an uphill battle
The bronzed beauty, perfectly crisp skin, juicy meat within!
So how was it? Pretty good. Meatier, very juicy, chewier than my normal free-range chickens from NS. I have to say, maybe I'm spoiled or some sort of pasture-raised-chicken wimp, but I like my regular free-ranger chicken better. w actually preferred this bird, saying it reminded her of the chickens she had as a kid growing up in Hong Kong where you'd go to the street market and they'd kill the bird right there while you waited.
Oh, and as a final tip for your future eating happiness, here's my secret weapon to give you the tastiest chicken skin ever. Yes, I know it's not organic. Yes, it might have a smidge of msg in it. But man, when you lightly spread some olive oil all over the chicken, then liberally sprinkle kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and a little bit of this "Ancient Greek Formula" (I didn't know the ancient Greek's were down with msg...hm, live and learn), when that skin crisps up you've got some serious savory goodness!
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The Perfect Weber Roast Chicken
Prepare the grill by filling the starter chimney to almost overflowing with briquettes (I'm a Kingsford guy). Lots of heat is the key here. When the coals are glowing, bank evenly (it helps to have coal separators, available at most hardware stores, to hold the coals at bay) on either side of grill so you can position chicken in the middle, off direct heat. Also, make a catch pan out of foil so the juices don't run into the bottom of your grill.
1 Free Range Chicken 5-6#
Sprigs of rosemary, thyme, sage, marjoram, tarragon in any combination
Fresh Ground Pepper
Cavender's Greek Seasoning
1-While coals heat up, rinse chicken inside and out and pat dry.
2-Mix together 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper and rub inside of chicken.
3-Cut lemon in half. Push first half all the way inside chicken. Stuff fresh herbs inside of chicken, followed by other half of lemon, cut side facing in. Tie legs together with kitchen twine.
4-Drizzle olive oil lightly over outside of chicken and liberally sprinkle salt and pepper all over (breast side and back side). Lightly sprinkle Cavender's on chicken.
5-After spreading coals on bottom rack and placing foil pan in the middle, replace top grill rack on Weber and place chicken on roasting rack in the middle of grill. Cover with lid. Check back in 30 minutes (chicken won't be done, but you can't help yourself). After about an hour or so, check bird. It is done when you wiggle the leg and it is very loose and moves easily and thigh juices should run clear when pierced with a knife. Skin should be very crisp and browned.
6-When done, bring chicken inside, let rest for 10 minutes, then carve away and prepare for much happiness!